My summer podcast binge has been __Math Is Figure-Out-Able,__ by Pam Harris. If you teach math at ANY grade level, you want to listen to this. It has completely changed the way I think about teaching number sense, and I’ve shared it with every STEM teacher at my school, which is a k-12.

My biggest take away has been to take algorithms OUT of my teaching curriculum. Get rid of “line up the numbers”, “start with your ones”, “crossie outies”, and silly procedures like “keep change flip” and “Butterfly Method”. After examining reasons to possibly KEEP algorithms from every angle I could, I landed on getting rid of them entirely. And here are the 3 reasons that convinced me.

**1) Technology Advances**

There was a time, not long ago, when we *did* have to train students/people to BE calculators. Technology wasn’t accessible and problems like 453 x 276 where unsolvable without a pencil, paper, and a memorized algorithm. These days that’s simply not the case. Not only are calculators accessible, but they are tool that make math education 100x richer! The relationships that my students and I can analyze, discuss, interpret, and build off of because of our __Demos__ app (free graphing calculator), is beyond what any math teacher in the 70’s could have ever imagined! I want my students to solve important and interesting problems using all of the technology tools available to them… not just be able to crunch numbers all day long.

**2) Algorithms are Non-Intuitive**

In the podcast, Pam says to ask someone “what is 99 plus anything?” When a person adds 99 plus anything…. Lets say 99+27… they are naturally going to use a strategy that is NOT the standard algorithm ,which would require lining up the numbers, adding by columns and carrying over. Someone might instead think, 100+27 and go back one. Or 100+26 because they moved one from the 27 to the 99. Our brains have ways of thinking about problems that the algorithm takes away from. In fact, when we teach the algorithm, we actually UNDO a lot of the natural problem strategies that are in us already. And when I get students in the middle-school age, they are so ingrained with algorithms that they don’t even know that there are other ways of thinking about things. They LOOSE the ability to think about numbers and the relationships between them (number sense)… because of algorithms.

**3) Algorithms are Boring/ Stressful/ Not Fun **

I beg my elementary teachers, PLEASE please please make math class fun and interesting. The hardest thing to change about a math student in middle school or high school is their mindset about HATING math. Helping a student who doesn’t know their math facts, but has fun with numbers, is a thousand times easier than helping a student overcome their hate for math. The drill and kill culture that comes along with teaching algorithms aids in this mindset of math being boring, stressful, and not fun. There are OTHER ways to teach problem solving that engage a student’s mind, values their thinking, and makes for an enjoyable experience.

If you're not sure about what these other ways could look like, check out the podcast to help you get started maing math class more fun and meaningful!

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